Regular LoveCycling blogger Frank Burns is currently well into a 1500 mile End-to-End of New Zealand bike ride. Frank tells us how he has cycled from Auckland to Wellington and is now preparing to jump on a ferry across to the South Island where he'll continue on this epic journey!
"For a country with fewer than 5 million people, on a land mass that is bigger than the UK, there is a surprising amount of traffic on the highways. My escape from Auckland, taking the 2 hour ferry to the Coromandel peninsula, was the wisest move I've made. It added about 50km to my route, but the quality of the ride was increased enormously, including 60km of coastal views.
Going down the centre of North Island took me through the famous thermal spa town of Rotorua, then onwards to Taupo (at the head of the largest lake in NZ). There was no way of avoiding the dreaded Desert Road over the volcanic plateau that is still threatening to erupt at any minute. It was 63km of severe climbing to an elevation of 1,100 metres (3,500ft), a plateau that gave the false impression of descending but continue to feel like an uphill struggle, but when the real downhill started........WOW, I headed downwards at a crazy speed of 65kph (40mph) for nearly 15km, with no switchbacks to get in the way.
When I called into the first cafe at the end of the road, the waitress who served me said she had never heard of anyone cycling over the Desert Road (I know she was joking!), but gave me $20 for the charity. And the spontaneous giving to the Children in Syria goes on. I've been taken in from the road by farmers, who have given me breakfast and $20; I've stayed the night with strangers (in a converted rail carriage in their garden!) and received $100 as a donation; a lady driving a car pulled over in front of me and gave me $30 saying "Good on yer" and disappeared; I entered a bar to get a cold drink, engaged in conversation with locals and they said: So where are you from? What are you up to? ....What did you say? Reinga to Bluff.....are you crazy? In this heat? You must be stupid!... my stupidity elicited total donations of $25. And it goes on and on...
- Richard and Sally gave me a bed for the night and donated $100
My visit to Kimbolton NZ was an uplifting event. The Headmistress of the primary school got a small group together, had coffee and cakes at the only cafe in the village, and I gave them a letter of greeting from our Parish Council in the UK. A shared identity was immediately established, and I am sure this will lead to further contact in the future.
- My visit to the tiny village of Kimbolton which, back in 1867, was born out of my own village of Kimbolton near Huntingdon.
I arrived in Wellington yesterday (the foot of N Island) greeted by a deluge of rain...and this after 12 days of hot, dry sultry conditions.
I was heartily welcomed at the NZ Head Office of Save the Children, learned about their work (especially in the Pacific Islands) and was gifted several bars of Whittaker's chocolate 'for the road'. This afternoon, in the midst of this squally weather, I will take the ferry to South Island and resume the second leg of this three part journey. Stay tuned!
- The Staff and I at the Save the Children office in Wellington New Zealand
In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to solving some of the problems in Syria, and helping the refugee children in particular, please go to: www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
And if you do make a donation, my warmest thanks.
See you up the road!